Toronto Maple Leafs fall to Boston Bruins in Game Seven Again
The Toronto Maple Leafs would have had a strong sense of deja vu, as they stood in the same locker room, in the same building, as experienced the same feelings as 12 months ago.
Tuukka Rask made 32 saves as the Bruins downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 on Tuesday evening, to win the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal 4-3.
However, the post-season script was slightly different this year for Toronto, but it still ended in a devastating defeat.
There wasn’t any record-setting comeback by the home side, just a sense that the Leafs had missed an enormous opportunity to take a massive step forward in an already-crazy spring that has seen many of the NHL’s titans stumble.
“You get so used to just being in it every day, competing and keep finding ways to get better and keep pushing forward,” said Leafs centre John Tavares, who scored his team’s only goal. “It’s still sinking in that we won’t be doing that.
“That’s the hardest part.”
Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom, with a goal and an assist each. While Marcus Johansson scored for the Bruins as Boston got production from their third and fourth lines. Before Charlie Coyle and Patrice Bergeron added one each into an empty goal.
Meanwhile, Frederik Andersen made 27 saves for the Leafs.
“It was a pretty hard-fought game,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. “You have to give Toronto a lot of credit. They played hard.”
Boston also took the Leafs down 7-4 last year. Becoming the first team in NHL history to battle back from three deficits of at least one goal to win a Game seven in regulation time.
“It’s the same (crappy) feeling,” Toronto winger Mitch Marner said.
That defeat came five years after the Bruins’ 5-4 overtime victory in 2013 — the first time a team had won a Game Seven after trailing by at least three goals going into the third period.
It is another crushing result for the Leafs. Toronto, a franchise that’s failed to advance to the second round of the playoffs since 2004 and haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967.
“It’s sad to see it end the way it did,” Leafs centre Auston Matthews said. “This is a feeling we’ve experienced two years in a row.
“It’s not a good feeling for any of us.”
The Leafs were also Canada’s last hope of ending a 26-year Cup drought. This following the elimination of both the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets.
The seven-game series was a back-and-forth slugfest featuring razor-thin margins. Furthermore, neither team managed to put together consecutive victories until the Bruins won 4-2 in Game 6 on Sunday to stave off elimination in Toronto before taking yesterday’s winner-take-all showdown.
Toronto had a chance to grab a 3-1 lead at home in Game 4 and wrap things up at Scotiabank Arena over the weekend. But failed on both accounts.
“It sucks,” Marner said. “We believe in this team. We had a lot of confidence in this team.
“When the season ends early, it sucks.”
TD Garden roared its approval as the minutes ticked down towards another Game 7 victory for Boston over their rivals. Before Coyle and Bergeron sealed it late.
“It’s got to stay with us,” Marner said of the emotions of the moment. “We’ve got to be hungry for this next year … make sure we come back pissed off.”